Culture Shift

REVIEW: Culture Shift

Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, is known for his commentary on current cultural issues. Although he has written much on how Christians should interact with the world around them, the majority of his writing has been limited to blog posts as well as an almost daily podcast; that is, until Mohler’s first published work: “Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America.”

In Mohler’s first book, he attempts to address several current cultural issues facing American Christians today and to provide a biblical response to each. In these chapters, Mohler wants to help the reader to know how to understand and respond to some of today’s most pervasive issues. By understanding these issues, and responding appropriately, Christians are more able to be obedient to Christ and to more effectively be salt and light in the world (p. xviii).

Mohler’s stated purpose is that these essays will assist the reader as they seek to be faithful to Christ as a concerned and intelligent Christian. He starts by giving a defense for Christians to be involved with politics without placing all of their hope in the political system. He then spends three chapters discussing the Christian’s morality and how Christians are to try to inject their morality into public law. Then Mohler addresses certain reactions that he believes Christians should have to various issues like offendedness, making sense of the Supreme Court’s rulings on religious matters, terrorism, and public schools. Mohler offers his wisdom on other issues as well such as post-modernism, parenting, and personal character, framing these issues in a way that shows their importance in shaping the future of America. Mohler carefully addresses the problem of theodicy by examining how the world has attacked ideas of God’s involvement in disasters. Scientific issues such as the God gene and evolution also find their way into this book; and of course the all-important topics of homosexuality, abortion, and the New Atheism. Mohler concludes the book with discussions on technology and retirement.

As mentioned above, the author’s stated purpose in writing these articles is that they would help Christian’s be faithful to holy living in this life for the entire world to see. He says that we can do this by being “concerned and intelligent Christians,” and it is to the end of producing concern and intelligence among Christians that Mohler writes. To that end, I don’t believe that Mohler was particularly successful. Mohler does a great job of presenting the issues at hand in a way that is understandable—he makes the Christian reader intelligent; and his harrowing explanations of the importance of these matters should certainly elicit an alarmed response—he makes the reader concerned. But where I feel that Mohler has fallen short of his goal is in providing Christians with the appropriate practical response to these matters. For one, Mohler doesn’t quote as much Scripture as you would expect a seminary professor to quote when addressing these matters. In fact, there are whole consecutive chapters where not a single quote from Scripture can be found. In fact, it is not until Chapter 5 that the first Scripture quote is offered, and following that, they are few and far between. If Mohler wanted to help Christians to respond appropriately to these issues, then Mohler of all people should understand that the greatest response a Christian can have is a biblical one. The author quotes many secular works and he interacts well with these authors and provides a good example of how a Christian should digest secular writings, but this book is certainly not a helpful resource in helping Christians learn how to interact with these issues by using the Bible. The peculiar lack of Scripture is, in my opinion, a fatal weakness of this book.

That doesn’t mean that the book doesn’t have its strengths, however. Mohler’s writing style is very easy to follow and understand. He is able to explain complex issues in such a way that the average reader will be able to have a working knowledge of the topic. This shines through in Mohler’s chapter over the God gene, where he discusses the attempts of a geneticist to locate the gene that produces faith in God in such a clear and coherent way that one doesn’t need to be a geneticist themselves to understand the issue and exactly why Christians should be concerned. And although Mohler doesn’t necessarily have to try very hard (and in the book, he didn’t) to convince Christians that all of these issues are morally wrong, he does do a good job of convincing the reader that these issues are important to the typical Christian.

One bias that you will see throughout the book is that the author is obviously a big fan of America and Western ideology. The book is even subtitled “the battle for the moral heart of America.” Just from the title alone, one could get the impression that Mohler is fighting for his country rather than for his King. Mohler devotes whole chapters that revolve around a concern for the well being of America rather than the Kingdom, such as Chapter 10’s “Are We Raising a Nation of Wimps?” and 11’s “Hard America, Soft America.” In the 20th chapter of the book, “The Challenge of Islam,” Mohler doesn’t state that the challenge that Islam poses is a Christian one, or even a religious one, instead, he states that Islam is “the single most vital competitor to Western ideals of civilization on the world scene” (p. 154). A non-American, even though they may face many, if not all, of the same issues addressed in this book, may have a hard time getting past some of the unneeded patriotism that lines these pages.

Mohler is one of the most vocal Christian voices in regard to the current culture and he is also esteemed everywhere as a scholarly and well-learned Christian. That is why it is sad that I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this book to others. The scope of topics covered in this book is vast, but the biblical truth applied to these topics is scarce. Mohler’s knowledge of current affairs, politics, and secular writings is apparent, but based on this work, the same cannot be said about his knowledge of Scripture and biblical ethics. The best that I feel that this book could be used for would be to provide some thought-provoking sparks in the minds of some mature Christian readers, but if left to this book alone, those sparks would be hard-pressed to fan into a flame, kindling would need to be gathered from some other source.

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